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How To Manage Cravings During Drug Detox

To maintain recovery from addiction, you need to handle difficult situations and uncomfortable emotions in a healthy manner. This is why it is so important to learn how to manage your cravings during detox. Being able to respond to this pressure without resorting to substance abuse is a skill that will be valuable to you long after you have completed treatment.

What are Drug Cravings? 

Drug cravings are intense urges to use addictive substances. The term can be applied to an overwhelming desire to use alcohol, cocaine, opioids, and a wide range of additional substances. 

Cravings are a symptom of addiction. If you haven’t been able to acquire or use a certain substance, and you begin to develop a powerful, almost painful, urge to use it, this is a strong indicator that your drug abuse has progressed to addiction.

Drug cravings can also be a sign that your body is going into withdrawal. 

Withdrawal is another classic sign of addiction. When you develop a substance use disorder (which is the clinical term for addiction), your body will adapt to the presence of the drug you have been abusing. When you fail to ingest more of the drug within a certain amount of time, your body will react with a variety of distressing physical and psychological symptoms. This is known as withdrawal.

The Dangers of Cravings

Drug cravings are one of the many reasons why it can be so difficult to get through withdrawal without professional help. 

When you try to stop using alcohol or other drugs on your own, you have the sole responsibility for managing your cravings as well as the other physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms you experience. As the cravings and other symptoms intensify, you will be tempted to ease the pain by once again using the substance that you have become addicted to.

The combination of powerful cravings, severe symptoms, and access to addictive substances can overwhelm even the most fervent desire to complete withdrawal. Once you’ve relapsed, the sense of failure or frustration that you experience can push you even deeper into addiction.

When You Are at Risk of Drug Cravings

The timeline for developing drug cravings can vary depending on a range of factors. Which drug you have become addicted to, how long you’ve been abusing this drug, and how much of the drug you typically use can all influence when cravings will begin and how intense they may become. 

If you have become addicted to heroin, prescription painkillers, or other opioids, you may begin to have drug cravings within eight hours of your last dose. It may take a bit longer in some cases, but by the time 24 hours have passed you will almost certainly have begun to feel cravings and other withdrawal symptoms.

In the case of alcohol withdrawal, it is not uncommon to have cravings within six to 12 hours after your last drink. These cravings and other symptoms will become more intense over the next two to three days. They may begin to subside after about 72 hours.

Tips to Manage Cravings During Detox

If you have cravings during detox, you may receive both therapeutic and medical support from the professionals who are providing your care. We will discuss these services a bit more in the next section. In this section, we will focus on how you can manage cravings no matter when they occur. 

As noted earlier on this page, cravings don’t only develop when you try to permanently end your substance abuse. They may occur if you haven’t been able to acquire drugs, or if you haven’t had the chance to use them. You may also begin to feel drug cravings in certain situations, such as times of conflict, sadness, or stress.

Experiences that prompt drug cravings are often referred to as triggers. Here are a few tips for dealing with triggers and managing cravings:

  • Identify your triggers. When you know what types of circumstances may prompt drug cravings, you may be able to avoid them. If you can’t avoid them, you can plan ahead for how to respond without resorting to substance abuse.
  • Call a close friend or trusted family member. Support is an essential component of a successful recovery plan. For example, if you are at an event where you are being tempted to use drugs, you may want your friend or family member to pick you up or meet you there. Their presence can help you stay accountable. Sometimes just being able to talk (or even text) about what you’re feeling will be enough to get your cravings under control.
  • Adopt a stress-management strategy that works for you. Many people in recovery meditate and practice mindfulness. This helps them manage their stress. It also provides them with a framework for dealing with painful memories or difficult emotions without using drugs. 
  • Find a healthy hobby. Active addiction takes up a lot of time. When you stop using drugs, you need to find a way to fill the hours that were previously devoted to finding, using, and recovering from substances. Exercising, reading, painting, gardening, and biking are just a few of the myriad pursuits that can occupy both your time and your mind, so you’re not thinking about using drugs.

Of course, therapy is also an extremely valuable way to help you manage cravings and protect your recovery. Even if you’ve already completed residential or outpatient treatment, scheduling regular sessions with a therapist or counselor can help you resist relapse.

Importance of Medically Monitored Detox

Entering a detox program won’t completely eliminate cravings. But when you experience drug cravings during detox, you will have the professional support you need to effectively manage these urges. You will also be in a place where you can’t access addictive substances, which removes a significant temptation.

When you choose a medically monitored detox program, you may be able to receive both therapeutic support and prescription medication to help with any distress you experience. Certain medications can alleviate drug cravings during detox. Other medications can ease other withdrawal symptoms, so that you can focus on managing your cravings.

The professionals who staff medically monitored detox programs are familiar with all aspects of the withdrawal process. Their knowledge and insights can eliminate fear of the unknown and reduce your stress. They may also be able to help you develop non-medical techniques for managing cravings during detox.

Start Drug Detox in Nashville, TN

Brentwood Springs Detox is a premier source of medically monitored detoxification services for adults who are addicted to alcohol and other drugs. Our detox center in Nashville, Tennessee, provides customized care and compassionate support in a safe and welcoming environment. If drug cravings or other symptoms of withdrawal have prevented you from ending your substance use, the Brentwood Springs Detox team can help. Contact us today to learn more. 

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